Mark Richt : Golly Gee, I Just Didn’t Know (Haha, Suckers!)
Mark Richt has received some modest punishment for what Georgia is calling a secondary violation of NCAA recruiting rules. Georgia is pleading for some level of mercy on the theory that Richt just did not know that this was a violation.
Right. Sure. OK.
I’m not a coach. I’m not charged with responsibility for knowing the recruiting rules. Yet, when this incident was first reported, I immediately wrote a post saying that it sure seemed like a violation of the NCAA rule regarding gameday simulations. Lo and behold, the incident was a violation of that very NCAA rule regarding gameday simulations!
So… this writer, who has never participated in recruiting and is not involved in college athletics other than being a fan, either knows more about recruiting rules than 25-year college coaching veteran Mark Richt, OR Georgia and Richt are just full of crap and they knowingly and obviously violated a rule with the expectation that the value of landing this recruit would far outweigh any piddling penalties that might result if they were caught. The short version: either Richt is actually dumb, or he’s just playing dumb.
Even in the “Richt did not know” defense offered by Georgia, they illustrate just how much Richt was trying to parse this specific rule by engaging in the simulation (he knew he could not run a play, so he tried to get away with just an alignment; he knew he could not use equipment, but figured game-day jerseys did not qualify as “equipment”). So even if you believe Richt did not actually know this was a violation, there is no choice but to believe that Richt knew all too well that, at a minimum, he was seriously skirting the line. Which probably explains why he did not bother going to compliance to clear the stunt – too much risk he’d lose his “plausible deniability” defense.
Heck, if the recruit in question had not spilled the beans on what happened to a newspaper, maybe there would have been no punishment at all. As noted, Richt did not clear the stunt with his compliance office beforehand, and there is no reason to believe he would have double-checked with compliance afterward had compliance not been alerted by the newspaper.
This is why so many folks think that college football is collapsing into a pool of filth. Just blatant violations of the rules followed by meaningless wrist slaps – all with coaches laughably pleading ignorance. Coaches that take the position that the benefits of cheating far outweigh any punishments that might result seem to be proven right again and again.
Some will say that this was just a minor violation, and some will say that this is a silly rule. That’s all fine. Change the rules if it is silly. Or if we are OK with minor violations, then let’s just come out and say that violating certain rules just is not a big deal. But let’s not keep playing this embarrassing game of coaches blatantly breaking the rules and then trying to pretend they are surprised they broke some rules. We have supposed straight-arrow coaches playing fast and loose with what are, in fact, well-known rules and then asking us to play dumb right along with them when they get caught. Excuse me if I come off as cynical about the game when I see such cynical garbage as this.